May 2009

These are rough times. How rough, you ask? So rough that even the relative roughness of toilet tissue has arisen as a question of economic and political fairness.

This pressing issue is being played out in California (naturally) – a state that is always in the forefront of public policy debates. Specifically, the county of Riverside is grappling with the delicate matter of tissue texture.

It all started a couple of years ago when county employees complained that the one-ply toilet tissue being used was… well, rough. So, the county supervisor rolled out a new policy of putting two-ply in all stalls. Employees beamed with smiles of comfort.

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But not for long. The county’s 18,500 employees recently learned that a double level of tushy cushiness has been delivered to the toilet stalls used by the top 10 elected officials and the executive staff. These special ones are blessed with a four-ply tissue, sold under the brand name of “Angel Soft.”

Why do these 100 or so executive-level employees get twice the softness that we do, demanded the other 18,400 county workers? There was no good answer. A county spokesman could only say, “There was a texture test, and then the Facilities Management Department decided that Angel Soft would be utilized for elected officials and their guests.”

This did not sit well with the two-ply crowd, which was already feeling shorted by having to take a 10-percent pay cut due to budget constraints. After all, every three sheets of Angel Soft cost the county a penny more than three sheets of the common tissue, so it also became a matter of budgetary integrity.

Good News – top county officials now say that, in the interest of tissue egalitarianism, they’ll revert to two-ply! Once again, California has put itself on the cutting edge of social progress.

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